Formative Assessment Ideas for Music Students

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Formative assessments are a non-graded assessment that help determine how a student is doing in a subject. This lesson focuses on formative assessments for music and provides a number of ideas on how to incorporate such assessments into your curriculum.

What Are Formative Assessments?

Formative assessments are usually small or quick activities or evaluations that can help determine where a student's knowledge is on a specific subject. These are not graded assessments. Instead, these tools are used to see if any patterns are developing in the classroom that suggest they need more knowledge in a specific area, or if you just need to sit down one on one with a student.

It's likely that you may already be using some of these types of reviews already. Asking random asking comprehension questions in class or having students take pop, non-graded quizzes both are two types of formative assessments. When working with music students, you may be able to evaluate even more frequently by listening to the band or the chorus as they perform their pieces. The following formative assessments are some other ideas to use.

Formative Assessment Ideas

One of the main goals behind formative assessments is making sure students get involved in their own education. It is challenging for some students to be self-reflective; the following activities can help students assess their own progress.


At the beginning of class, hand out a few 3x5 index cards to each student. After the class performs a song, have the students answer questions similar to the following:

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